Israel cites progress in laser that shoots down drones

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Monday it has successfully tested an airborne high-power laser that can shoot down drones, technology it hopes to deploy on a larger scale in the coming years.

Israel already boasts a large and sophisticated air defense system, which the military says had a 90% interception rate against thousands of rockets fired from Gaza during last month's 11-day war. The laser technology would complement that system.

A prototype, developed with Elbit Systems, was mounted on a civilian plane and successfully shot down “several” drones in a recent test over the Mediterranean Sea, according to Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of military research and development at the Defense Ministry.

“The ability to intercept and destroy threats from the air is groundbreaking," he told reporters. “Israel is among the first countries to use such capabilities.”

In the recent test, the system shot down drones from within a range of about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile). In the coming years, Israel hopes to deploy a ground-based system with a range of 8-10 kilometers (5-6 miles) that can intercept rockets, mortar rounds and drones.

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